Cleveland Browns (4-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)
The Bengals were riding high off of a 49-9 win over the Jets a couple of weeks ago, but after back-to-back road overtime losses, they have been knocked back down to Earth and people have given them the inconsistent label. I don’t think it’s so much inconsistency as home/road disparity. On the road, they lost in Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, and Baltimore and almost lost in Detroit and Buffalo. However, they are still a dominant home team that has won all 4 of their home games, including two against New England and Green Bay and one by 40 against the Jets. At home, Andy Dalton completes 64.6% of his passes for an average of 8.1 YPA, 8 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. On the road, Andy Dalton completes 61.3% of his passes for an average of 7.2 YPA, 10 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Back at home, they should get back on track this week against an inferior team.
On the season, the Bengals are moving the chains at a 74% rate, as opposed to 70% for their opponents. The Browns, meanwhile, are moving the chains at a 70% rate, as opposed to 74% for their opponents. That suggests this line should be around 8.5. That matters because big home favorites usually take care of business going into their bye and it’s important to determine whether or not the Bengals deserve to be big home favorites. I think they do. Home favorites of 6+ are 49-17 ATS since 2002. The thing I’m worried about is that they might not be the same team defensively without Geno Atkins and Leon Hall and that the Browns are a legitimately improved team offensively without Brandon Weeden under center.
The Bengals also might be tired off of back-to-back overtime games. Teams off of back-to-back overtime games surprisingly don’t have a poor record against the spread, going 17-19 ATS since 1989, but that’s not a huge sample size. Also, teams are 13-33 ATS as favorites off of a road loss in overtime and the Bengals are coming off of back-to-back road losses in overtime. They could just be so tired and unable to concentrate for the Browns this week. Also the Browns are in a good spot as divisional road underdogs before being divisional home favorites, a situation teams are 55-38 ATS in since 2002. I’m still taking the Bengals to bounce back, but I’m not that confident. Cincinnati is my Survivor Pick this week though.
Cincinnati Bengals 27 Cleveland Browns 17 Survivor Pick
Pick against spread: Cincinnati -6